Customer Review

90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 7-star sound, detracted by strange receiver limitations, July 10, 2008
This review is from: Marantz SR8002 Surround Receiver (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
After 9 years, it was time to upgrade my former top-of-the-line Sony ES receiver (STR-DA 777ES) to take advantage of improved audio and high-definition video switching. After reading all the professional reviews, I settled on the Marantz SR8002. Three weeks after an extensive configuration and testing, I must say that I am pleased overall with my choice. However, several surprising configuration limitations keep me from giving it a full-on 5-star review.

Let me preface my review by stating that my home theater / audio configuration is on the higher-end of the scale: 3 KEF Reference speakers for the front 3 channels, Boston Acoustics rear surrounds and subwoofer, Sony ES SACD player (and yes, I have an SACD collection!), Bang & Olfusen turntable, Sony reference DVD player, AppleTV, Roku music server, JVC SVHS VCR, Mitsubishi HDTV monitor.

My first priority was in upgrading the audio quality, and I must say that in this respect, the Marantz SR8002 far exceeded my expectations. As a 7.1 channel amplifier, there are 7 x 125watt channels available, native decoding of the latest lossless HD digital audio on BluRay (DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD), Audyssey microphone and room equilazation, and THX Select 2 certification. For the ultimate audio experience, the Marantz SR8002 offers two "Pure Direct" modes - the first one bypasses the equalization and surround circuits, the second mode completely disables all video and display logic for even shorter audio output path. The SR8002 also provides a toroidal power transformer for extra headroom when needed, and in my setup the audio performance is dramatic.

I chose not to expand my current 5.1 speaker configuration to 7.1 channel. In this setup, the SR8002 gives you the option of taking the two unused channels and configuring them for a second amplified room/zone, or bi-amplification of your front speakers. I chose the latter, as my KEF Reference speakers support bi-amplified wiring, providing 250 watts per channel into Left and Right channels. Let me tell you - the pure stereo performance in this configuration will blow your socks off! Friends could not believe the sound in our fairly large family room was from 2-speakers only. And, the multi-channel modes (especially NEO6: Music) are quite outstanding even with a 2-channel source. Quite simply, the audio performance of the SR8002 is "7-star" on a 5-star scale.

My second priority was in upgrading to a receiver capable of decoding the high-resolution audio of BluRay, while providing high definition video switching (via HDMI and component). In this respect the receiver delivers, but with some surprising limitations. On paper, the Marantz SR8002 offers more connectors and options than you would ever need. You have 4 HDMI 1.3 connections + 2 HDMI 1.3 outputs (good!), 4 component HD connections + 2 component HD outputs (good!), 4 TOSlink digital audio (including front), 3 coax digital audio, and a plethora of S-video, composite video, and analog audio inputs.

But in reality, there are serious limitations...

First of all, it is inexcusable for a receiver of this cost to be missing a phonograph input. Yes, for $50 you can buy a phono preamp that gives you good performance and doesn't have the A/C hum of your $25 Radio Shack unit. But, come on.

Secondly, and more discouraging, despite the plethora of connections you only have 8 discrete settings that can be assigned. (The AM/FM tuner is another, nonassignable input, as is the optional XM radio input). This means that even if you could connect to all of the analog + digital inputs available you can only use 8 of them! This is quite a surprising and serious limitation. Even my Sony ES from 1999 had 12 discrete inputs!

The on-screen receiver setup lets you assign specific HDMI, component, and digital audio for your 8 choices. Each input can also be renamed. But you cannot use a single digital input for more than one setting. And you cannot reassign the analog video (S-Video/Composite) or analog audio inputs.

An example of this strange limitation is the analog input of the "AUX2" input also happens to be used as the Left and Right input channels for the 7.1 input. I had to reconfigure my setup to reassign the "AUX2" input to the digital CD input, which I also connected to the 5.1 (SACD) output from my CD player. Because there are only 8 input settings, I had to assign the "AUX1" (front) input to the digital audio and video inputs from my AppleTV. This means that the front AUX1 inputs are completely unusable, since all 8 inputs were assigned from rear input sources.

Another big surprise was the subwoofer speaker setting. By default, it is set to "mix"...all bass output is diverted to the subwoofer at an assignable crossover frequency. This works well for (and is recommended for) THX and multi-channel video sources. But strangely in "mix" setting, the SR8002 does NOT output the bass to the subwoofer for two-channel analog inputs AND it does not output the low frequencies to the front speakers. I spent about 3 hours trying to figure out why my new (required) phonograph preamp sounded so terrible before I discovered this problem. Setting the subwoofer to "BOTH" properly sends full-range audio to the front speakers. AND, it enables the subwoofer for the simulated modes such as NEO6. Not only does this not make sense, it is not documented anywhere in the manual.

There are other annoyances:
- FM / AM radio reception is below average. I was looking forward to trying the "HD radio" capability, but the tuner reception is so bad that it can never get a strong enough signal to use any of the HD radio broadcasts in my area. Compared with my 1999 Sony ES receiver using the same antenna configuration I can only tune half of the stations. My CLOCK RADIO gets much better radio reception than this $2000 receiver!
- the front of the receiver has two large controls for Source and Volume - each one has a bright blue LED indicator that does NOT move with the control. So, while you might think that the volume indicator would indicate the volume level it doesn't. The bright blue indicators are always at 12-o clock position. And the front input control does not have a positive feedback to let you know you have switched inputs.
- the remote control button/display backlight is ONLY activated when you press one of the two buttons on the bottom of the remote
- the remote does not offer discrete settings for all surround modes or settings (although thankfully there are discrete power on/off codes)
- the onscreen display is very primitive (think 1982 Apple ][+ 40x24 characters)

In summary, despite the outstanding audio performance of the Marantz SR8002 (once you figure out the subwoofer and other settings!), I cannot give this a full 5-star rating because of the serious limitations and limited inputs.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 21, 2008 5:03:30 PM PDT
Thank you!!! now I switched the bass config. and in analog I can hear the woofer... I have one terrible issue that I cant figure out, I have a Marantz SACD player and I use digital out to take advantage of the 5.1 sound but when I connect the cable to the receiver and config Aux 1 or 2 as digital Input, nothing happen!! No sound at all, do you have a clue? my mail is
Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2008 1:34:47 PM PDT
Hi Juan,

My understanding with SACD is that many (most) players will only output the multi-channel sound over the analog outputs. Only the newer SACD players that provide HDMI output have this capability to send the multi-channel sound as a standard PCM bitstream that the receiver can decode.

In my instance, my Sony SACD changer does not send multi-channel sound over its digital connection. I use its digital connection for 2-channel CD sources, and then use the 5.1 analog connection for the multi-channel SACDs.
- Paul

Posted on Jan 7, 2009 12:34:42 AM PST
yeah, whats up with the no phono input!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2009 3:12:54 PM PST
FYI - an update on my review. I'm still largely happy with this receiver, although I'm frustrated beyond measure with Marantz's customer service and firmware upgrade process. There is a firmware upgrade for this model (released late 2008) that fixes problems with high-resolution audio on certain Blu-ray titles. And, it corrects the LFE calculation bug in the Audyssey algorithms. The new firmware does indeed correct these issues.

The problem is that the firmware is in no way user-upgradeable. You must either send the unit to Marantz (6-8 week wait) or take it to a local Marantz service center. I chose the latter option, and that in the end turned into an 8 week process, because the service center had to order special cables and equipment from Marantz to even perform the upgrade.

In the end, I'd still highly recommend this receiver. And, the firmware upgrade has been out long enough that you're pretty much guaranteed to get it on any new units you buy.

Posted on Feb 5, 2010 8:27:17 PM PST
C. Vance says:
Thank you for a super review!

Posted on Oct 21, 2010 12:36:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2010 12:41:27 PM PDT
Larkenfield says:
First of all, it is inexcusable for a receiver of this cost to be missing a phonograph input.
Since vinyl lps are obviously no longer the standard, phono inputs are no longer the standard, true for many years, though in general some receivers still do come with them if one is willing to hunt and peck for them and pay the additional cost. If phono inputs are a priority, than one should look for them upfront rather than criticise any particular model for not having one after the fact, as basic research. Most buyers would know to search for that particular feature if it was desired. In other words, 99 out of 100 would never have used the phono input at all, and that's why most receivers no longer have them and this is hardly breaking news to most buyers. Otherwise, this was a fine review.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2010 12:45:33 PM PDT
Jarra says:
The incremental parts cost of adding an excellent-performing phono preamp is less than $1. I agree that most people don't care about it though.

Posted on Jul 1, 2011 7:54:48 PM PDT
I had a Sony ES A/V Receiver, the model was STR-V444ES. It had a 5-year warranty, but shortly after the 5-year warranty was over it had a problem where the motherboard burnt up. When I contacted Sony, I was told that they did not keep parts like that on hand. This meant I was not able to get the A/V Receiver fixed. I was forced to throw an expensive investment in the trash because of Sony's irresponsibility.

This is almost as bad as the $150 remote control I bought from Sony. I programmed it with Windows XP and everything was fine. But then my Sony laptop broke -- thanks to a burnt out motherboard! When I got my next computer, it used Windows 7. I could not believe it when Sony told me they were not going to release a firmware update to make it so the remote control could be programmed using Windows 7.

The A/V Receiver I bought from Sony had a manufacturers suggested retail price of $1,000, but I was able to get it as part of a package for only $500. It had a low THD of 0.05% with 120 watts per channel to five different channels. Now, for $2,500 you won't find a Sony ES A/V Receiver that goes down to 0.05% THD. The best Sony can do for five times the price is 0.08% THD. Seriously, Sony has been heading in the wrong direction for quite some time.

I don't buy Sony products any more because of that...Even in Japan, banks and funding companies have said things like "Sony no longer is recognized as a leader" and "Sony no longer symbolizes Japanese excellence."
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